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Master of Science in Behavior Analysis and Therapy

SIU BAT student with eye tracking glasses

The graduate program in behavior analysis and therapy is an award-winning, comprehensive course of study that involves classroom instruction, clinical experience and a wide variety of research opportunities. With an emphasis on taking the lessons learned in coursework out into real-world practical settings, earning a Master of Science in BAT provides graduates with a firm foundation for careers assisting diverse populations. With options for both on-campus and fully online learning, this degree is open to students of all backgrounds.

Courses in the 45-hour graduate program cover the basics of BAT along with legal and ethical issues, observation methods, behavior consultation and management, research tactics and applications of behavior analysis. Electives allow students to study topics such as verbal behavior, radical behaviorism and experimental analysis. Either an empirical thesis or pre-approved research paper is also mandatory for completion of the graduate degree.

Field Work

Successful candidates of the BAT graduates program must satisfy the internship requirement which makes up for nine credit hours and is performed under the direction of a faculty member of the BAT program. Additionally, enrollment in a practicum, which includes performing field work in clinical settings, is required. These internships and practicums focus on children with autism, adults with brain injury, elderly persons with dementia and a number of other populations of individuals with other developmental and medical disabilities.


A multitude of opportunities exist for graduate students who wish to participate in research projects while earning an advanced degree in BAT. Topics including disability-related issues, behavior therapy, autism, and complex human operant behavior are led by our nationally recognized, award-winning faculty members. While participation in research studies is optional, the experience provides mentorship and additional insight into the field of behavior analysis and therapy.

Fully Online

For graduate students who work full-time during the academic year or have other obligations that prevent traditional, in-person learning, SIU offers a Master of Science in BAT fully online. The convenience of online learning allows professionals to further their education and increase earning potential without sacrificing current employment or requiring relocation.

Flexible Learning

The entire curriculum of coursework for the program is offered in an online format and can be completed in the evening for those who work during the day. All courses are even offered in a live format to encourage real-time interaction and participation with faculty as well as fellow students. For career advancement and increased earning potential, the online BAT program offers an advanced degree without the demands of on-campus attendance.


Prior to graduation, BAT graduate students must complete a supervised internship. Worth nine credit hours, the internship is graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading scale and typically begins following the first two semesters of graduate coursework. A faculty member of the behavior analysis and therapy program is assigned to each student to oversee and supervise the internship. This guidance ensures the most fulfilling and successful experience for each student, to complement coursework and research. By completing the internship requirement of the BAT graduate program, students gain hands-on experience in analyzing behaviors in a number of populations and clinical settings.

For the on-campus program, placement options include one of the approved facilities in our region, including the SIUC Autism Center, Project 12-Ways, the Smoking Lab at SIU, the Evaluation and Development Center, and Tri-County Special Education. Each of these facilities focuses on patterns of behavior and disabilities and gives BAT graduate students important insight into the analysis and treatment plans of persons with autism, addiction, brain injuries, parenting concerns, and children receiving special education services. For the online program, students are required to seek out their own placement sites.

Clinical Experience

The BAT Master’s Degree program offers students with opportunities to gain clinical experience in several areas of interest. Students may work one-on-one with persons with autism, traumatic brain injuries, intellectual disabilities, and mental health disorders.

This clinical experience provides valuable practical training in behavior analysis by immersing students in the professional field.

BCBA Course Sequence

For persons who have previously earned a graduate degree in any field of study from a U.S. accredited institution, SIU offers a Verified Course Sequence to provide coursework to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). The course sequence consists of 21 credits (i.e., seven 3-credit courses) covering topics such as behavioral principles, behavior consultation and management, single subject research designs, legal and ethical issues in behavior analysis, observation methods, and two professional seminars.

All of the courses are completely online and offered in the evening to allow working professionals time and convenience to complete the sequence.  The GMAT and GRE is not required to complete the BCBA course sequence, but applicants must have a GPA of 2.7 or higher and submit the following items to gain acceptance into the program:

  • Personal Data
  • Program information (Be sure to complete "What is your area of interest?”)
  • Education History
  • Official Transcripts (from all previously attended institutions). Official transcripts must be sealed from the original institution.
  • Resume/Vita
  • Statement of Purpose
    • A one-page document (no set format) about your education/training/career, your experiences, and what made you choose this profession
  • Research Interest/Experience
    • A one page document (no set format) about any past research you have done or are doing, what your research interests are for the future, and whom from our faculty you would like to do research with.
  • Public Safety
  • Signature Page
  • Recommendations (3)

Research/Thesis Option

As part of the requirements to earn a master’s degree in BAT, students must complete either an empirical thesis or a research paper prior to graduation.


The empirical thesis should be of an experimental nature, with a survey or other form of research that exhibits the collection and analysis of empirical data. A successful thesis shall demonstrate the candidate’s skills in formulating researchable questions or hypotheses, identifying and manipulating relevant variables and analyzing and reporting the results of the experiment.

The thesis committee for each student will consist of a BAT faculty member selected by program consensus referred to as the chairperson and two additional faculty members to serve as thesis committee review members. This three person committee is responsible for reviewing the thesis before its initiation and participation in oral defense of the thesis.

Research Paper

As an alternative option, BAT graduate students may complete a research paper instead of a thesis. Prior approval from the program is required for this research paper and the paper must include the same empirical data, hypothesis, variable identification and analysis as the thesis. Students who wish to write a research paper will be assigned a chairperson who is a member of the BAT faculty. Additionally, a second faculty member, selected by the student and chairperson, may be selected as a reader for the research paper.


Prospective on-campus students are encouraged to apply for one of the many graduate assistantships available to offset the costs of tuition. Although these assistantships do not cover fees, housing, or books, the tuition waiver drastically offsets the cost of the program. On-campus students who receive graduate assistantships are able to focus on coursework, internships, research, and clinical experience without the burden of added financial stress. Graduate assistantships benefit on-campus students financially and academically, while also providing research and behavior analytic services to SIU and the community. The BAT program also maintains grants to fund close to 90% of the on-campus students enrolled in the program. Graduate assistantships are only available to on-campus students.

Prospective online students are encouraged to apply for financial aid and scholarships to help fund their education in the BAT program.


Prospective students who seek a Master of Science in Behavior Analysis and Therapy, either on-campus or online, as well as the BCBA course sequence, must complete the admissions process for their chosen category. The application requirements and deadlines are straightforward and multiple resources exist for guidance through the admissions process.


The master’s degree program in behavior analysis and therapy is accredited by the Association for Behavioral Analysis International (ABAI). This accreditation signifies the continued efforts of the Behavior Analysis and Therapy program to meet the highest standards of theoretical and evidence-based, practical instruction within the curriculum at SIU. Instructors must regularly update coursework to reflect current principles and comply with ABAI regulations.


The profession of behavior analysis and therapy is constantly on the rise and a number of career opportunities exist for graduates of all backgrounds and areas of interest. Employment opportunities abound regionally, nationally and across the globe for BAT professionals. Graduates of SIU’s program find careers in autism service delivery, brain injury rehabilitation, child and family support, dementia patient care and a multitude of mental health services.

Historically, SIU's Behavior Analysis and Therapy program has a 100% career placement for successful BAT graduates and is committed to continue doing so for many years to come. Upon completion of the requisite courses, internship, clinical experience and thesis, students are well-equipped with the knowledge and field experience that lead to positions in settings such as special education programs, autism centers, hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation facilities.

Contact Information

Ryan Redner,
Program Director

Rehn Hall 335A
Mailcode 6502
Carbondale, IL 62901
Ph: (618) 453-8295